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Essex — Tudor Rebel

the remarkable story of Queen Elizabeth I's dashing courtier

Of all the players in the Tudor court of Queen Elizabeth I, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, is one of the most intriguing. His youth, good looks, and flamboyant personality made him a favorite of the Virgin Queen. But were they lovers, as the gossips claimed?

With Essex—Tudor Rebel, novelist Tony Riches set out to uncover the real story. He discovered that the truth about Robert Devereux and the queen is far more complex. In researching their unlikely relationship, he crafted a masterful portrait of a famous yet shadowy figure in Tudor history.

Tony, welcome to the blog!

AM: What’s the tagline or super-short blurb description (“elevator pitch”) for your book?

TR: What makes the queen’s young favourite turn against her?

AM: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

TR: I’ve been telling the stories of the Tudors from the first meeting of Owen Tudor and Queen Catherine of Valois in OWEN—Book One of the Tudor Trilogy. I am now working on the final part of the story, an Elizabethan series, which explores the world of Queen Elizabeth I through the eyes of her favourites.

AM: What inspired you to write about that particular character?

TR: I decided to explore Robert Devereux’s story when writing the first book of my Elizabethan series, Drake —Tudor Corsair. Drake is appalled when the young Earl of Essex steals a warship from his fleet to sail in the ‘English Armada’ and attack Lisbon. Drake knew the queen had forbidden Essex to join his expedition — and he had no experience of naval command or fighting at sea. I was intrigued by Devereux and began a year of research to find the truth of his story — and understand why he acted as he did.

AM: How did you create a realistic setting for your story?

TR: I’ve immersed myself in every detail of the court of Queen Elizabeth I, and Elizabethan life in London, for the past two years. I also visited the Devereux Tower at the Tower of London, and the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula to pay my respects to Robert Devereux, as well as visiting several other locations in the book, to have a sense of place.

AM: What surprised you in the course of your research?

TR: During my research I was amazed to discover that Robert Devereux spent his formative years at Lamphey Palace, a place I know well and have often visited. Lamphey was where the young Margaret Beaufort lived while expecting the future King Henry VII – and it’s less than twenty minutes from my house in Pembrokeshire!

AM: Do your research findings guide the plot, or do you plan out the plot first and flesh it out with research? (Or perhaps both?)

TR: I like to make sure my books are historically accurate and as authentic as possible, so I begin with a timeline of key events, then research each to build the bigger picture. I also developed the plot through exploring Robert Devereux’s many romantic relationships, particularly his marriage to the daughter of the queen’s spymaster.

AM: What is your usual writing routine?

TR: I’m an early riser, and like to write in the mornings. I treated myself to an oak writing desk, when I thought I would work – but actually carry my laptop and write wherever I happen to be. I research and visit actual locations in the summer, write through the autumn and winter, then edit for a book launch in the spring.

AM: Do you have any tips for other writers about historical fiction research?

TR: There is nothing better than studying any surviving letters to develop a sense of your character’s ‘voice’, state of mind and motivation. ESSEX — Tudor Rebel relies on letters to and from Robert Devereux — and I’ve included some extracts to add authenticity.

AM: Do you prefer to write in silence or with background music? If music, what kind and why?

TR: I like background music as I write, and my MacBook Pro has wonderful sound quality. While writing ESSEX I often played Finally Going Home by Katie Petersen (and she kindly agreed for me to use her lyrics as an epilogue.)

AM: What do you have planned for your next writing project?

TR: I’m now researching the third book in my Elizabethan series — and looking for a new angle on the life of another favourite of Queen Elizabeth — Walter Raleigh.

AM: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

TR: I live by the sea and enjoy sailing and kayaking. I also restore classic vintage motorcycles as a hobby.

About the author:

Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling Tudor historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, and is a specialist in the history of the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors. Tony’s other published historical fiction novels include: Owen – Book One Of The Tudor Trilogy, Jasper – Book Two Of The Tudor Trilogy, Henry – Book Three Of The Tudor Trilogy, Mary – Tudor Princess, Brandon – Tudor Knight and The Secret Diary Of Eleanor Cobham.

Buy Essex — Tudor Rebel on Amazon. (Or read it for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.)

 

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